Surfing South Bay

A Local’s Perspective:  Five Incredible Reasons to Visit the South Bay of Los Angeles

The South Bay is a hidden treasure within Los Angeles County, California, known for its picturesque beaches and laid-back beach vibe.  If you are visiting Los Angeles, then the South Bay should be on your must-see list so you too can experience the cute coastal beach towns and all they have to offer.  

pier south bay

The South Bay is just south of the Los Angeles International Airport and is comprised of over twenty small communities.  Several of these towns run along the coast, including Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Palos Verdes.  The ocean views and sunsets from these coastal communities are epic.  From a local’s perspective, here are five incredible reasons to visit the South Bay of Los Angeles.  

1. Fantastic Beaches

beach california

The weather in the South Bay is good all year-round, which means visitors and locals alike enjoy the beach even in the winter. It’s easy to relax on a South Bay beach and let your cares wash away with the tide. The wide, soft sand beaches rarely have crowds, so visitors have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the day.

If you head to a South Bay beach, you should plan to stay for sunset.  Watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean is an exceptional experience.  The colors that often follow sunset are gorgeous, and if you are lucky, you might even see the famed green flash! 

Beach Tip:  If you visit any of the South Bay beaches in the summer and find yourself near a pier, head either north or south, where you will find significantly more space.  People tend to gather near the South Bay piers, but the beach is so large, there is no reason to stick to the areas around the piers.  

2. Plenty of Outdoor Activities

If you love outdoor activities, then the South Bay is calling your name.  There are so many activities to do in the South Bay that it might be hard deciding which to do first.  

south bay california

Surfing:  If you have never been surfing, then now is your time to learn.  Manhattan Beach is home to several great surf coaches and schools that can help you catch your first wave.  For more experienced surfers, Manhattan Beach gets a significant west, northwest swell that will have you doing dawn patrol to catch the best winter waves.  

Biking:  There is a 22-mile bike path that runs along the Strand from Santa Monica down to Palos Verdes, allowing bikers to set out and explore several beach towns. It’s fun to ride your bike from one beach town to the next, where you can eat, drink, and shop without getting in your car.  Bike riders in the South Bay can enjoy spectacular ocean views on one side of the bike path and dreamy mansions on the other.  I highly recommend a bike ride while visiting the South Bay.  

california beaches

Walking:  For those not into biking, try a walk on the Strand or along the beach.  Walking on the Strand is one of my favorite things to do in the South Bay, and I do it almost daily.  I can never get enough of the gorgeous ocean views.

Volleyball:  One of the more popular sports in the South Bay is volleyball.  The beach volleyball talent pool is impressive, and it’s common to see pro athletes practicing on the beach.  However, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to join the fun. The volleyball courts are open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Except for major holidays, like the Fourth of July, it’s easy to find an open court. 

Hiking:  Palos Verdes offers hikers spectacular trails just above the coast.  Several nature reserves are interconnected, offering hikers the option of taking a long or short hike.  Portuguese Bend Reserve is one of my favorite reserves in Palos Verdes because of the phenomenal ocean views, and hikers have the option of choosing between easy to moderate trails.  These trails are a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon getting some exercise.  

hikiing in california

3. Restaurants Fit for Foodies

Eating in the South Bay is a foodie’s dream.  The South Bay chefs are incredibly talented and have leveled up their game. It’s often hard to decide where to eat because there are so many delicious restaurants.  Here is a quick list of some of my favorite local restaurants: 

Breakfast:  Uncle Bill’s in Manhattan Beach (pancakes are a must) and in Hermosa Beach try Martha’s (the eggs benedict dishes are my favorite) and GumTree (try the avocado toast with scrambled eggs). If you are in the mood for a quick breakfast, try the breakfast burritos at Amigos Tacos.

Lunch:  A couple of my favorite restaurants in this category include M.B. Post (cheddar bacon scones are worth breaking any diet), El Sombrero, Pitfire, and Simmzy’s, in Manhattan Beach.  If you are in Hermosa Beach, check out Mosa or grab a deli sandwich to go from the Green Store or Boccato’s Groceries and sit on the beach and enjoy lunch.  In Redondo Beach, Rockefeller has killer fried chicken and waffles.  

food in california

Dinner:  Manhattan Beach has a deep bench of fantastic restaurants for dinner.  When visiting, I suggest you try local favorites, including Nando Trattoria, Fishing with Dynamite, and The Strand House.  My go-to restaurant in Hermosa Beach is Palmilla Cocina y Tequila.  If you are looking for a more budget-friendly restaurant, try Eatalian Café (you are in the right place when you pull up to a large warehouse), Siagon Dish, or Alejo’s Presto Trattoria (the turkey chopped salad is popular).  

While in town, you should also check out some of the local bars.  In Manhattan Beach, my two favorite ocean view bars are Shellback Tavern (a local dive bar) and directly across the street, The StrandBar (an upscale bar).  Rock N’Fish also makes excellent drinks! In Hermosa Beach, you can sit outside at several local bars and restaurants on Pier Avenue, where you can see what’s going on in the plaza.  In Redondo Beach, two popular bars are Sea Level on the marina, and Naja’s Place, a dive bar (beer and wine only) in King Harbor.  

foodies south bay

4. Drive a Porsche

If you are a car enthusiast or love adventure, then the Porsche Experience Center in Carson is the perfect afternoon experience for you.  At the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles, you can choose from several different Porsches to test drive on the Driver Development Track.  I am not a car person, but my experience on the track was AMAZING.  As part of your package, you can drive several different modules, including slick tracks, a 1.3-mile handling circuit, a low friction circle, a dynamics course, and the launch control module.  

Hands down, my favorite module was launch control, where I drove a Taycan Turbo S, peddle to the metal, down a long straight away into a replica of the Karussell Curve.  The Taycan Turbo S goes 0-60 in 2.6 seconds, and you will experience g-force as you fly down the track.  The launch control module was so much FUN!  I could not wait to do it again and again!  I would highly recommend heading over to the Porsche Experience Center when visiting the South Bay for a unique and unforgettable experience. 

5. Attend Local Community Events

Community events, especially in the summer, in the South Bay are extremely popular with locals.  Some of my favorite events include watching a concert on Hermosa Beach as the sunsets over the ocean or enjoying a movie on the beach.  Local parks and other towns also host these types of events where the community comes together.  Next time you visit a South Bay town, check the local city calendar to see if there are any local events to attend.  These events are free and are usually held several times a week during the summer.  

To fit in with the locals, I recommend bringing a picnic with a bottle of wine and a chair for comfort. 

Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes also hosts low-key summer concerts on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  These concerts are free, but you will want to order a drink and some food.  I also recommend taking an Uber or Lyft instead of driving and paying for parking.  Summer is not complete without heading out to Terranea Resort for a concert or two.  

The South Bay is full of fun activities, and I hope you will visit and experience some of these incredible things to do next time you are in Los Angeles.